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Chris Murray explores the Higher Education Act for higher ed association

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Christopher Murray

Published on: 7/9/2013

In the first installment of a two-part series, Lobbying & Policy group partner Chris Murray authored an article for the University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) on the fascinating five-decade history of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

The article, "The Higher Education Act: Progress and Pitfalls," appears in the Spring 2013 issue of UPCEA's publication InFocus. UPCEA is a national association for leaders in professional, continuing, and online education. The association serves 350 educational institutions, including most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America.

As the House Education and the Workforce Committee kicks off its next reauthorization of the HEA, Murray detailed the HEA's rich history and the fallout for the higher education community from each of the law's eight prior reauthorizations.

Signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 as the centerpiece of his Great Society agenda, the HEA's central purpose was to remove cost as the primary barrier to education.

"The eight reauthorizations of the HEA reflect the relevant politics at each interval, but many of the issues at play remain the same, decade after decade," Murray wrote.

For example, the 1972 reauthorization created the federal grant program that would eventually become the Pell Grant, greatly expanding the federal government's need-based assistance for low-income students. The 1980 reauthorization coincided with the U.S. Department of Education's elevation to a cabinet-level department. In 1992, the reauthorization carried a number of watershed provisions, including the introduction of Stafford Loans for middle- and high-income students.

In the second part of Murray's two-part series, which will appear in the Fall 2013 issue, he will explore the issues under consideration for the upcoming reauthorization, including the likelihood of Congress making large-scale changes to federal higher education programs.